PR 101 for large and small businesses


By Mark Shumaker

You may have seen Columbus Shareholder Mark Cobetto featured in Business First’s January 13, 2012, “Tax Planning and Investment Inside Report.”

Mark’s feature did not happen by accident, but as an outcome of a communications strategy that includes public relations. Public relations is an important part of any communications strategy -- for large or small businesses. This form of unpaid communications gives you a level of credibility and third-party endorsement that is valuable in building your reputation as a trusted advisor to clients and the public.

Building relationships with local reporters is critical. By establishing a working relationship with the media, you will more likely be identified as a resource when they have an idea for a story, or need a comment on how an issue might affect the community.

And remember, the goal of working with the media is to help reporters educate and inform the community. Promoting your business will come in the form of being considered a knowledge leader in your field.

Remember these simple tips when thinking about your public relations efforts:

Know your local reporters
Reach out to the local media, and ask for the business reporter’s contact information and a list of the beat each covers. Introduce yourself to local business reporters through a letter or e-mail, and then follow up one week after to make sure you have the correct reporter. Offer to assist them with answering questions, understanding issues and developing stories. This is the first step in developing a relationship that positions you at the top of a reporter’s contact list.

Help the media to report important stories
Reporters are always looking for new story angles, and a significant amount of news stories are pitched by business professionals. If you identify a unique story, send an e-mail to your reporter that contains a creative headline, three or four bullet points that explain the idea, and a request to help in developing the story.

Be a knowledge leader
If a reporter contacts you to assist in developing a story, be prepared to give complete and factual information. News comes from digging deep, and reporters are paid to ask the tough questions. Make sure you have an answer to any question imaginable before you are asked. Remember, reporters can’t use generalities. They need specific information.

Honor deadlines
Reporters are responsible for filling daily, weekly, and sometimes hourly, publications. If a reporter contacts you, always return the call as soon as possible. If you are not able to meet the deadline, tell the reporter in advance, so that the reporter can find another source.

Everything is on the record
Nuf’ said.

Follow up after your conversation
After communicating with a reporter, send an e-mail thanking him or her for thinking of you. This is an opportunity to verify the facts that you discussed during the interview. Make sure that your electronic signature contains your full contact information with credentials, the firm’s website and name of your business as you would like it to appear in any article.

© 2012 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.

This advice is not intended or written to be used for, and it cannot be used for, the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties that may be imposed, or for promoting, marketing or recommending to another person, any tax related matter.


You’ve heard our thoughts… We’d like to hear yours

The Schneider Downs Our Thoughts On blog exists to create a dialogue on issues that are important to organizations and individuals. While we enjoy sharing our ideas and insights, we’re especially interested in what you may have to say. If you have a question or a comment about this article – or any article from the Our Thoughts On blog – we hope you’ll share it with us. After all, a dialogue is an exchange of ideas, and we’d like to hear from you. Email us at contactSD@schneiderdowns.com.

Material discussed is meant for informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, this information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.

© 2019 Schneider Downs. All rights-reserved. All content on this site is property of Schneider Downs unless otherwise noted and should not be used without written permission.